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Old 02-05-2017, 01:46   #1
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Earliest departure for New Caledonia

Planning a passage from Coffs Harbour to New Caledonia next southern hemisphere autumn and would like peoples opinions on the earliest departure date you would choose for a safe passage with favourable winds. What are the weather windows usually like in late April? What is the probability of being able to arrive there by mid May on a reasonably fast catamaran?
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Old 02-05-2017, 02:03   #2
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Re: Earliest departure for New Caledonia

Avoiding tropical storms is a must ☺
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Old 07-05-2017, 17:43   #3
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Re: Earliest departure for New Caledonia

We're having one at the moment and it's the second week of May. Just look at the forecasts and surf the leading edge of the big highs that cross.
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Old 11-05-2017, 21:58   #4
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Re: Earliest departure for New Caledonia

That's very good advice from NoTies.


You need to understand how fast the systems move, compared to your boat, & it is worth spending some time studying them. If you do you can avoid the silly mistake I made once.


I sat in Cairns waiting for a big strong system to pass, before I headed off for Samurai island, New Guinea. Mine was a fast boat, & averaged better than 7 knots on most passages, but less than a fast cat should do.


This was the early 70s, so no sat nav to get weather maps etc. I jumped out of Cairns about 20 hours after the system had passed, & when it started to get very rough, I had no idea I had caught it, & was sailing into it & increasingly rough conditions.


The only good thing about that passage was that averaging 8.25 knots, it was over quickly. That average was under storm jib only for 55 hours. It is far too fast for the seas you can encounter out there. Leaping off the tops of waves is not something I really want to do short handed.
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Old 12-05-2017, 22:32   #5
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Re: Earliest departure for New Caledonia

When you leave from Coff's, you can pretty much sail the rhumb line. Try and get a little extra easting, it makes it easier if you get ESE off the high in a few days. Frontal passages are not as strong above 30 deg. S. as below.

We are ultra conservative for this trip, and often leave from Southport (Port of Brisbane), but they will check you out from Southport. We leave on westerly quadrant winds and get our easting in. But, we would not leave as early as March or April, or May, we've been struck by a late season cyclone, once, didn't much like the experience, it was on the 15th of May. Most years, we leave in August, for our allotted 3 months.

We really enjoy New Caledonia, it is a beautiful, varied place, and being fond of French wines, cheeses, and pates, what's to not like? Have a great trip.

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Old 12-05-2017, 23:14   #6
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Re: Earliest departure for New Caledonia

Late season cyclones are the new thing this May.
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Old 19-05-2017, 14:04   #7
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Re: Earliest departure for New Caledonia

Thanks everyone for your replies. Much appreciated. With improvements in weather forecasting and the fact a fast yacht can make the passage from SE QLD in 4-5 days, surely the risk of encountering a named tropical storm in May would be very low?
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Old 19-05-2017, 14:28   #8
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Re: Earliest departure for New Caledonia

That's correct but it indicates that it may pay to factor in a later departure as part of your forward planning. Out of ordinary sea temperatures generally occur due to cyclic events such as El Nino or La Nina but we are in a neutral phase and still had 2 cyclones. Without beginning a debate about global warming it may be an early indicator of a shift in climate.
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Old 19-05-2017, 14:29   #9
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Re: Earliest departure for New Caledonia

It IS low, but they had two late-ish cyclones this year. You want to keep an eye on lows popping up near the Solomon Is, and on the water temps. When the water is warm enough they can spin up. There is a a lot of demand for the cyclone holes there, and some require less draft than our 2.2 m. to enter. There is a mangrove river at Port Laguerre, the Boat Passs in the north, a river at Hienghene, Canala, Ouine (6 ft. draft), and again with about 6 ft. draft, you can get into the lagoon south of Ile des Pins. In B. de Prony, at Carenage, it is first come, first served, and you want to be on the mangrove side, the holding on the other side is variable.


It's roughly 800 n.mi. to Passe Boulari from Southport. You will experience some time with stray currents you hadn't planned on. We have often left from Southport, with a westerly for the first 24-48 hrs., you can get in a lot of easting. Generally, we leave later than May, but we only get 3 months there. YMMV.

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